When Bishop Gregory Parkes decided that a music and faith festival on a large, open field would be a good way to celebrate the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s golden anniversary, he didn’t have to imagine what it would be like. He already knew about other dioceses that had successfully gathered thousands of families together for similar festivals that included music, fun and faith.
The Fest in the Diocese of Cleveland and the Faith Fest in the Diocese of Lansing are two of the biggest and best examples.
The FEST began in August of 2000 and has since grown to become one of the most anticipated events in their community. Last year, more than 35,000 people joined in the FESTivities.
The Faith Fest in the Diocese of Lansing also attracts thousands of families from across that region to listen to music, join in activities and participate in a Mass under the stars.
Other dioceses are also beginning to invest in similar events because they see it as an opportunity to reach out and evangelize the wider community.
John Morris, station manager for Spirit FM 90.5, attended The Fest in Cleveland in 2016 to see firsthand what makes this type of event so special. He is co-chair of the Family Faith Fest planning committee.
“These festivals are unique because they bring the wider community together in a picnic-style setting to enjoy great music and activities for all ages. I found that although the music is a big draw, the high point of the festival is the celebration of Mass, where thousands are there in praise and worship.”
Diocesan festivals also showcase the many ways that the Church is involved in the community.
“We also look to spotlight our many ministries and organizations that are serving our community. You only have one 50th anniversary so you want to celebrate big!” added Morris.